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More than half of parents are still unsure what is the safest position for their baby to sleep, according to a new survey.
The research carried out by The Lullaby Trust, found that over 55 per cent of parents are unsure of the basic steps they can take to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The survey of 500 parents with children aged up to two years, found that while most are aware of SIDS there is confusion around what the charity calls one of the most fundamental steps to reduce the risk of SIDS – putting a baby on its back for every sleep.
Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust said: “25 years after the Back to Sleep campaign, the survey results have shown us we need to go back to basics. Following the ABC’s as part of a baby’s routine for every sleep day and night is a simple way to help protect them from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and allow parents the peace of mind to enjoy this special time with their baby.”
A total of 38 per cent of parents are unsure whether a baby should sleep on their front and 55 per cent are unsure whether to put a baby to sleep on their side.
The charity said that evidence shows that babies who are put on their back for every sleep are six times less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their front or side.
Bereaved father Robert Weeks has been helping raise awareness of SIDS and safer sleep. He revealed that on 3 January 2012 their lives changed forever "when our beautiful daughter Sophia died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was just about to turn twelve weeks old.
"We have still never had an explanation for why our healthy and ‘normal’ daughter died. We were one of 221 families that year whose child died for no apparent reason and with no cause found, even after a post-mortem was held.
"I think the work that The Lullaby Trust does to raise awareness of safer sleep for babies is absolutely vital. Every new parent should be made aware of this information if it will prevent other families from going through what we have been through,” he said.
In the wake of the report, the Royal College of Midwives has called for parents to be given more support and information.
Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "Stressing to prospective parents about the need for their baby to be put to sleep on its back is standard midwifery advice and has been so for many years.
“There is strong evidence about putting babies to sleep on their back and a reduction in the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, so this is important advice. This survey shows there is clearly a need for more education and support for women and their partners who are expecting the birth of a baby.”
She added that the results of the survey highlights why it is so important that midwives have the time to discuss issues such as this with women and their partners, before and after the birth. “Home visits by midwives after the birth for example are helpful as you can see where the baby sleeps and what else is in the cot,” she said.
Sleeping babies on their front was commonplace until the national 'Back to Sleep' campaign in 1991. As a result of the campaign, SIDS rates in the UK have reduced by 85 per cent since 1991. However, the rates could still be much lower.
The Lullaby Trust is running Safer Sleep Week to help parents make sense of the advice. Throughout the week (13-19 March), the charity will be promoting the ABCs of safer sleep, across social media, in shopping centre baby change facilities and on screens in GP surgeries throughout England.